Rainy weather and on-shore winds this week haven’t made for the best fishing conditions. It appears we might get a bit of a break for at least the first half of the weekend.
Droves of small pilchards are hanging around bridge shadow lines at night as well as deep grass flats inside the passes. These baits are attracting the attention of a variety of species – ladyfish, Spanish mackerel and jack crevalle to name a few. Live chumming over deep grass patches on a good moving tide has made for some fun fishing lately. And with the occasional keeper trout mixed in, it really is a good option right now.
Schools of mangrove snapper ranging in size from one to four pounds can be found on artificial structures from inside Tampa bay, the Skyway Bridge and surrounding structures found along the shipping channel as well as many areas in the near-shore Gulf waters, including much of the pipeline and deeper artificial reefs in the 30- to 50-foot range. Perhaps the mangrove snapper’s biggest asset to anglers is its ability to be chummed up. Frozen chum blocks make up the first step while fresh-scaled sardines and threadfins can be cut up and used for both added chum and bait. The key to fooling the larger mangos is to down size your tackle including hook, weights and leader. Once the snapper are chummed up, make your offering appear to be one of the cut pieces of chum in every aspect, including size and rate of fall and you’re sure to get bit.
Shark fishing also has been very productive, whether you’re targeting small 3- to 5-foot blacktips or bigger bulls. Set up in deeper water adjacent to shallow flats, areas that are holding schools of fry bait indicated by dipping turns working the surface will be more productive. Typically we use the same size equipment used for redfishing. When targeting the smaller blacktips and tarpon, rods work great for putting out bigger baits for the bull sharks. Keep a fresh chum block out and fish with live pinfish under a float or with oily baits on the bottom such as shad, mullet or ladyfish. Typically, the bigger the bait the bigger the shark.
Tyson Wallerstein can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. To get a fish photo in the paper, send the photo along with your name, when and where it was caught to editorial@TBNweekly.com or mail it to Tampa Bay Newspapers, 9911 Seminole Blvd., Seminole, FL 33772.